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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 31

ι.] BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING. 25 paper letter-writer on such subjects, who has not begun from the Upper Chamber at Jerusalem and worked his way from the coming of the day-star, through the gloom and twilight of the ages, towards the bright shining, such shining as it is, of these days, before he ventures to apply the spectrum analysis to the doctrinal light of the nineteenth century ? There is a contrary error; the true student has learned that the past is no more a whole without the present than the present without the past ; that the past has no claim to infallibility any more than the present, that the past has had no power, no moral right to dispose of the present by a deed in mortmain. T o be a slave of old traditions is as great a folly as to be a slave of new quackeries ; but the fault is in the slavish use, not in the old traditions nor in the modern nostrums ; and the former error is perhaps the less pardonable as it is a sin against greater light. I am aware that there are great difficulties ; if there were not, History would be no matter of study, politics would be no ground of controversy. There is the great question, where does fact end and opinion begin ? there is the great question, at what point in the study of modern and medieval history does the sympathy of his own day force itself into the judgment of the student ? There is the question, can any length of acquiescence turn a wrong thing into a right one; any length of prescription turn an abuse into a right ? How far are men bound by the acts of their fathers, or by their own acts when deceived or ill-informed ? Then there is the further question, how far is the moralist—righteous, free, unprejudiced as he may be—qualified to answer these questions off-hand? Each application of each question has its own modifying circumstances. I can only say that the man who knows the facts and has formed the habit of judging on them, is better able and more likely to answer them rightly than the man who has not. Some people will call him dogmatic, but

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